May 26th, 2011
10:52 PM ET

KTH: Joplin morgue slow to identify bodies

Editor's note: Anderson Cooper reports on the slow process for determining who was killed in the Joplin, MO tornado.

soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Kim

    How exactly do you expect the morgue to let family members know? They don't know who they are. This report sounds like it's pointing some sort of blame on the morgue, and I think that's unfair. I'm sure they're a bit overwhelmed right now.

    May 27, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
  2. Clara Lauer

    I saw your Morgue reporting last night, and was so angry I had to turn off your show. I watch your show almost every night because I think it is mostly unbiased and complete. However, in every natural disaster I find that you look for sensationalism angles and this episode last night was the worst so far. As a person with a medical background, although not in Pathology/Medical Examiner area, I can think of several reasons why there is such a delay.
    I would start with just logistics, most towns can be immediatley overwhelmed with sudden multiple fatalities such as from a bus or train crash. I cannot even imagine how this town's ME office can accomodate for this number of casualties. Then imagine how many hours of work needs to be done to organize and try to keep track of all the deceased. Do you suggest they let anyone looking for a loved one to just take a tour of the morgue? I hope not. I do understand families looking for loved ones are anxious and want immediate answers, but with disasters like theirs it is just so much more difficult. They need to be patient, provide authorities with identifying description of their loved ones such as clothes, unique birth marks, tatoos, or piercing and wait until they have a similar match. I hope they are also warned that even if they are told they do not have a match on the day they ask that their loved one could possibly still be there but has not been processed fully.
    I would be more interested in finding out if the medical examiner office has volunteers from outside communities helping them out. I'm sure if they did not lose some of their workers to the disaster, some of their workers might have also lost loved ones and homes. They need our support as well. I cannot be outraged at how slow the process is taking, but I'm actually outraged at the angle you presented the story.

    May 27, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  3. Bob B

    I know Anderson has good intentions and those folks searching for loved ones in Joplin are frustrated, but it appears to me that officials there are doing the right thing to ascertain identification of what are probably horrendously mutilated bodies before exposing loved ones to that kind of trauma and risking potential misidentification. Keep 'em honest Anderson but ease up on these folks. They're doing the best they can.

    May 27, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  4. Glenn Thomas

    It is very disappointing that CNN would have correspondents with cameramen in Joplin trying to take cameras into areas where officials say they're not allowed. And then to waste the time of these people who are doing their best to work a tragic situation. I can fully understand why they don't want cameras in some areas. I would much rather see the media supporting and encouraging the officials there instead of trying to further sensationalize a bad situation by implying there is something devious going on.

    May 27, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  5. J.A. Finch

    Please, do not agitate this very grave and heartbreaking event.

    May 27, 2011 at 2:30 am |
  6. Allen

    I just watched the episode where the police tell the press to turn off their camera's and don't come back!! I am appalled that this is happening in the United States.I hope the Justice Dept. gets involved. If we start allowing our citizens to be treated like this ESPECIALLY THE PRESS!! We might as well kiss our rights good bye in this country. I am sure our troops are fighting across the world so that citizens of the US will be treated like we live in a third world country.

    May 27, 2011 at 2:17 am |
  7. Richard Curl

    I am curious to know if you expect the civilian authorities to allow hundreds of grief stricken relatives to wander through a room of unidentified body parts in order to calm every loved ones understandable desire to have an immediate answer when one is just not possible. PLEASE stop the drama and just report the d*** news.

    May 27, 2011 at 2:14 am |
  8. Kay

    THose law enforcement officers clearly were violating constitutional rights. If they took the cameras then that is a clear violation of illegal search and seizure, and freedom of press. I expect that in Libya not MO.

    May 27, 2011 at 1:13 am |
  9. j parker

    The morgue should take pictures of all the victims not requiring DNA, and show those to the families. Take pics of just faces, identifying marks, or tattoos. Then explain the remainder will require DNA for identification. Families would then understand that. What they don't understand is why someone can just walk in and immediately identify someone. That is what families are thinking and wanting. Showing body pieces is NOT what they want or need to see.

    May 27, 2011 at 12:21 am |
  10. Catherine Bayne

    After a horrific plane crash in 1985, the authorities in Ireland where the bodies were taken, took pictures of all the deceased. Those pictures were posted on a wall in another room and family members were allowed to come in to look and try to identify their loved ones. That could be done here. The ones requiring DNA identification obviously would have to be done another way. Two weeks is not acceptable for anyone to wait to see if their missing family member is actually already found and sitting in a morgue.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
  11. denise

    I think Anderson Cooper needs to put his story regarding the families wanting to view the morgue into perspective. By this time, days after the storm, the reality that their loved one(s) may have been lost. Part of the grieving process is anger and these families are displaying anger and displacing it to the officials in charge of the morgue. The only similar disaster where bodies were subjected to these types of traumatic force was in the World Trade Center and it took months and years to identify some of these victims, using DNA of small pieces of the remains. Looking at the damage done to steel, concrete and enormous trees should help people understand what the workers in that facility are dealing with and the long term effects it will have on them as responders and medical staff. The actions of the police towards the CNN crew were, however, dictatorial and frightening.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
  12. FLThomas

    I can understand what these families are going through. But I think that you as a news reporter and news station should realize the big picture going on and help the law enforcement and agencies in Joplin to do their jobs. I think that you not only have done a disservice to these workers but also to these families. You should be helping the families in their wait not pushing them over the edge. How many bodies do you think they are going to have to view to find, "their loved one"? And what happens to those bodies as they are being viewed until their families can claim them. You should be telling these families that many are waiting to find out about their loved ones. It is a catastophic tragedy and you are not in any way helping the people affected by it. The worst journalism I have ever seen.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
  13. Geoffrey C. Howes

    Your badgering of the governor was shameful. You seem to have no conception of the technical and human sides of the identification of casualties of disasters.

    May 26, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  14. Carl Gabler

    I've followed you career with some interest. I met you and your older brother briefly years ago, when you were at a performance of Orlando Furioso (at Madison Sq. Gdn, I think) and in the company of your father. I'd known Wyatt casually when we were both students at UCLA years before. And then, oddly, I met your mother when we were guests at a dinner, hosted by her cousin, Viscount Anthony Furness. I wish you continuing success .

    May 26, 2011 at 11:20 pm |